Some 47% of India’s current 1 billion population are under the age of 20, and teenagers among them number about 160 million. By 2015, Indians under 20 will make up 55% of the population–and wield proportionately higher spending power. In the emerging era of knowledge-driven globalization and declining workforce in developed countries, India with its large young population (including rural areas) has the opportunity to position itself as a quality source of skilled manpower for the world. Technical education in India covers a broad-spectrum right from Technical High Schools and Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Polytechnics and all the way to colleges of Engineering, Universities of Technology and Indian Institutes of Technology.
The new economy demands new trades and new skills and competencies.
The traditional skill set is fast becoming obsolete and the world is looking at India to cap the skills gap in all sectors. The manpower shortage is a global phenomenon. India can provide a solution and therefore has a tremendous opportunity to assume global leadership.
With these growing demands are growing the needs of the students. Gearing up for the outer world is something that the universities like Delhi University in India prepare the students for. But it has often been seen that the environment in which the students are getting a hold of the development is not adequately designed to meet their needs. From infrastructural problems to faculty, the students of these universities are in dire need for change.
A number of mid and the low tier colleges of the Delhi University lack basic facilities such as a playground and other facilities for extra curricular activities. Some also have inadequate numbers of toilets. The size of the classrooms, often unable to accommodate the students, also adds to this. In its Xth plan, the University Grants Commission (UGC) allotted around 6.59 crore to the Delhi University colleges, a major part of which was devoted towards the development of infrastructure and equipment. With such problems being faced by the students, one wonders how this budget allotted to these colleges for their development is being used. Colleges like the Maharaja Agrasen College, which is currently sharing infrastructure with a local Government school, are using their funds to build a completely new building with all kinds of facilities for the students. Many other colleges in the same league are trying to overcome their infrastructural problems.
Delhi University has a faculty of around 8000 teachers. For the year 2009, the total number of seats available for admissions have been increased to 49,000 as compared to last years 42,000. Students from Lady Shri Ram College (LSR), another premier institute of the DU, have no complaints with the regularity of the faculty and it is same in the case of similar colleges of the league like SRCC and Hindu. But this is not the case with a few colleges of mid and a number of colleges of the lower tier. Students of DCAC, B.R Ambedkar and Dayal Singh College often complain about the irregular faculty as well as the failure of the same to complete the syllabus on time. This also gives students the courage to bunk classes and overlook the college rules. The students, in an already free environment become even more independent. The lecturers, who often forget their moral responsibilities towards the students, put the blame on the latter.
Since the formation of the new government and more and more involvement of the youth in the country’s policy, what is the youths’ education needs and demands?
Nikita Singh, a second year student of the Amity Law School feels a dire need for practical knowledge. “They must take us to court sessions and arrange seminars with practicing lawyers. The teachers just come and speak and deliver all bookish knowledge. Even we can learn from books. Government must make practical knowledge as a necessary part of the curriculum”. “There is a need to improve the faculty. The teachers should teach in a way that involves us more with the subject.” she feels. Pratyush Patra of Maharaja Agrasen College, Delhi University says, “We need more of practical education. We want to experience the real work scenario.”
Another factor that is keeping the students worried is that of reservations. The students of Delhi University have been condemning the current quota of 49% for a long time now. Students feel that instead of a caste-based quota, India needs a quota based on financial background. Apurva Desai, pursuing Bachelor of Financial and Investment Analysis (BFIA) from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies says, “Reservations should be realistic. Only the students belonging to a lower economic background should be given reservations.” Echoes Pratyush, “Rather than having reservations at the higher education level, it must be there at the grass root level. Schools must have reservations at primary and maybe secondary level. This way the minorities could get a fair representation at the basic level and the schools could prepare them for the competition after school. But it is pointless to have reservations at the college level. It just cuts down the chances of a deserving candidate.”
The students also feel a need to update the current curriculum and the course material. They believe that it is the same as it was ten years back. Sheetal Bhalla, a second year student of B.Com (Hons.) from Dayal Singh College, Delhi University says, “We are still studying the course which was there years back. We need a new curriculum that gears us to face the competitive corporate world. Our education needs to be updated. It must have more practicality. We need exposure.”
The students who aspire to make it big in the IT industry feel a need for larger investment in IT. They want more industry specific courses that provide placement. “There is a need for investment in the IIT’s. The infrastructure of the existing IIT’s must be improved and then we must think of building new ones.” Says Apurva.
Students of Delhi University feel that infrastructure plays a major role in enhancing our educational experience. There must be actions taken by the state government to improve the conditions of a number of colleges of the Delhi University.
As far as the faculty is concerned “The faculty must be well qualified, well versed with subjects and more permanent. There must be regular checks on them so that the strikes do not affect us,” says Apurva.
She also adds, “The students grievances cell should be more authoritative. There should be an industry based approach to education so that we do not have find it hard to find a job and the college has a placement cell.”
Other reforms that students want include safer hostels and better food so that the students do not fall sick often, proper medical facilities in all colleges and more colleges dedicated towards extra curricular courses. “Following the European concept, we must have high quality colleges dedicated towards sports. Students who are good in a particular sport must be given the opportunity to take it as a career,” says Pratyush.
As far as the facilities for students are considered, students feel that everything should be net enabled. Students should find it easy to access admission forms as well as course material and the notes. The homework and projects should be accessible via the Internet and DU must come up with a net enabled platform for the students.
The students need change and feel that the re-elected government will provide them with a breath of fresh air. From better faculty to infrastructure and curriculum, the government will be needed to take care of it all.